White Plains to Indian Head


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These former Long Island RR commuter coaches are stored for the defunct "Indian Head Central" near White Plains. The IHC operated trains but did not buy the tracks. The track at the far right is the "main line". Photo by Mike Palmer, May 2003.

While the Indian Head Central trains are no longer in operation, this line is not technically abandoned. While no trains have operated over it for a couple of years, there are plans to resume freight service in the future. An SW8 (#2037) has been purchased by the Government, with plans for it to be refurbished. (Thanks to Josh at the Indian Head Naval Warfare center for this updated information).

The US Navy operated this branch line in Charles County, Maryland, that runs from the CSX (formerly Pennsylvania RR) Popes Creek Secondary from White Plains, past Rasmussens Siding to the Indian Head Naval Ordnance Station on the east bank of the Potomac River. The tracks were intact and the grade crossing signs and signals are still all in place as of spring 2003.

The now defunct Indian Head Central leased the tracks for tourist / passenger service for a couple of years. The IHC posted a few signs at crossings along the right of way, but there is no currently operating passenger or freight trains. The FP10 that they had used is now stored at the power plant near Morgantown.

Some of this line was being dismantled in January 2008, according to a news item in Railpace magazine, March 2008, page 9. Evidently the Indian Head Central dinner train only ran for a year around 2000.

Mike Palmer
Los Angeles County, CA


The entire line was pulled up early in 2008 except for a short segment at the Navy base. By June 2009 it had been completely paved by the county and opened as a trail. Signs were erected along the trail that tell the story of the railroad.

The LIRR coaches were unrepairable and scrapped. The yard in which they sat for years (White Plains) is now a parking lot. The FP10 at the Morgantown power plant was removed in 2009, as I recall.

John Fuller
Alexandria, VA


The EMD SW8 was a former Army locomotive and Korean War veteran that had previously been stationed at Fort Eustis, VA, and later Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. After the Army shut down rail operations at APG, one of the two SW8s was acquired by the CA State Railroad Museum in Sacramento and was shipped via flat car by mid-2005. The other, 2037, was later acquired by the Navy and moved by rail to Indian Head. There were plans to use it for hauling coal to the base power plant, but when the railroad's main advocate, base civil engineer, moved on to a new position in DC, the line was left without friends and plans changed. For over a decade Charles County had wanted to convert the line into a hiker/biker trail and they got their chance. A Navy GE 80-ton centercab locomotive was sold and shipped by truck to Las Vegas and the SW8 was purchased by a broker and shipped, via truck in pieces, to the power plant at Chalk Point for service there. The line was scrapped in January 2008.

Although it was in Navy hands for some time, the SW8 was never repainted or renumbered by the Navy before it was sold.

A short segment of the line by the CSX interchange remained in place for a while longer because some derelict ex-LIRR cars belonging to the IHCRy were sitting on the rails. These could not be moved because CSX refuses to handle them in interchange. Eventually they were cut up for scrap by Hub Scrap of Hagerstown, MD, the rails were pulled up, and the land was graded. Additionally, the grade crossing signals at Route 301 were removed, the link with CSX was removed and CSX's track was straight-railed.

On the naval base itself, the tracks remained in place with derelict box cars of WW II and Korean War vintage scattered around the base next to buildings, often serving as additional storage space. Eventually a contract was awarded to cut them up for scrap. At this date I believe the base track is still largely intact, but it is within the base's restricted area, plus much of it is overgrown with trees and brush.

An IHCRy FP10 was stored for years at the power plant near Morgantown, in large part because the power company didn't know the whereabouts of the owner. They found out in 2007 and later it was moved from the site.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA


Today, I discovered two of the ex-LIRR Indian Head Central dinner train cars, 2020 and 2837, still wearing NCBX patched reporting marks, on the Cockaboose Railroad in Columbia SC, across the street from the University of South Carolina football stadium. The Cockaboose railroad is mostly cabooses located on spurs off NS lines and close to CSX as well, used for tailgating party rental. The Fighting Gamecock is the USC mascot.

The ex-LIRR coaches are derelict and awaiting renovation, but are on a track with 3 steel heavyweight coaches painted in the USC colors of garnet and black, or their railroad equivalents, which appear to be in active rental use.

David Reddy


Without having a roster of all of the ex-LIRR cars that were at Indian Head, it's hard to be sure if the cars discovered in Columbia, SC, are from the Indian Head Central operation or just part of the larger fleet of ex-LIRR cars that Ken Bitten purchased, which went in various directions. Some were stored on the spur of a stone company in Waldorf and were subsequently scrapped by Hub Scrab, as were cars stored in a yard at Letterkenny Army Depot near Chambersburg, PA. Any of these cars that required interchange over CSX were often stuck in place because, following a derailment that CSX blamed on such cars in one of its trains, CSX would not touch them. Trucking was an option but there weren't nearly enough interested buyers for most of these cars. There were two cars in Walkersville, MD, that were lent to the Walkersville Southern Railroad in the late 1990s in return for WSRR track crew work on the Indian Head Central's sister operation in New Freedom, PA (the Northern Central Railway) and within the last few years they were sold to the Catskills Mountain Railroad in NY. The CMRR trucked one out but has since developed problems of its own with the local government (long story) and now has expressed interest in selling the remaining car in Walkersville. With its flat wheels, Hub Scrap may very well end up with it too. The WSRR never used this car for anything but storage and would like to see it gone, as track space is very limited.

Tim Moriarty
Herndon, VA


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